Ellesmere is mainly the brainchild of Roberto Vitelli, bass and guitar player from the Roman prog band Taproban. In 2014 he gathered around him some prestigious guest musicians to play his compositions and in 2015 released an interesting debut album on AMS Records. It's entitled Les Châteaux de la Loire and it's a charming work where acoustic, pastoral atmospheres prevail. The line up features Roberto Vitelli (Takamine 6 strings classic, Eko Ranger 12 strings, Fender "Geddy Lee" jazz bass, Fender Stratocaster, E-Bow, Moog Taurus III), John Hackett (flute), Anthony Phillips (narrative vocals), Daniele Pomo (drums, percussions), Luciano Regoli (vocals), Giulia Nuti (violin, viola), Pietro Horvath (cello), Linda Giuntini (horn), Fabio Bonuglia (Mellotron M 400, Moog Model D, keyboards), Paolo Carnelli (electric piano, keyboards, acoustic piano), Danilo Mintrone (strings arrangement) and Dario Esposito (drums).
|Roberto Vitelli during the recording sessions|
The main course of the album is the title track, a wonderful, dreamy thirty-eight minute suite divided into eleven parts. It was inspired to Roberto Vitelli by a holiday he spent in France and starts with the narrative vocals provided by former Genesis member Anthony Phillips who reads some verses taken from Lines Written On Visiting The Châteaux On The Loire, a poem by Alfred Austin. Just close your eyes and let the music flow and show you some pondering pictures of the vast panorama of the past... In fact, the Loire Valley is studded with over a thousand châteaux, each with distinct architectural characteristics covering a wide range of variations, from the early medieval to the late Renaissance periods.
Some sections of the suite are dedicated to some specific castles, amazing monuments of heart and mind such as Sully-sur-Loire, Meung-sur-Loire, Blois, Chambord and Chaumont-sur-Loire while the other sections mark the passages from one place to another as thoughts and feelings get mixed in an intermittent dream, cradled by the river waters. No need for words: except the narrative vocals that open and close the suite there are no lyrics and even the beautiful voice of Luciano Regoli is used here just as an instrument to add colours and emotions. By the way, Luciano Regoli (singer from Raccomandata con Ricevuta di Ritorno, Samadhi, DGM) is also a talented painter and took charge of the wonderful art cover that probably depicts the atmosphere of this album better than all my words...
The last two pieces are credited as bonus tracks but they are not fillers at all. The mysterious, dark "The Ancient Samovar" tells in music and words about the almost magic power of an ancient samovar, a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in and around Russia as well as in other countries. Thanks to the thaumaturgic properties of its tea you can relax even in a silent, troubled night, waiting for the sun with a renewed feeling of hope... The closer "Wintry Afternoon" is a beautiful, melancholic instrumental track with the notes of an acoustic piano in the forefront the the sound of the wind in the background.
On the whole a very good album!
Ellesmere: Les Châteaux de la Loire (2015). Other opinions:
Thomas Szirmay: The music is highly atmospheric, gentle and sweet background music that has no pretensions other than to deliver sumptuous melodies, played with restrained passion and obvious enjoyment... (read he complete review HERE)